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Maine students have six choices for K-12 education

School Choice Week is a nationwide push to get more parents thinking about the education their students are getting.

AUGUSTA, Maine — Public school isn't the only option for Maine students, nor do families have to pay high tuition to try a different type of K-12 education. A nationwide push called School Choice Week works to inspire more parents to research the options available to their kids, whether they need more schedule flexibility, more focus on math or the arts, or their students simply don't thrive in a classroom. 

Andrew Campanella, CEO of the National School Choice Week Foundation, said there are six options available to Maine students, starting with public school outside your district. 

"Within the public school system -- schools that are run by school districts -- some families might have the ability to choose a school outside of their zone or outside of their district," Campanella said. "Each district in the state has the opportunity to decide if they’re going to let families cross boundaries, which is called open enrollment."

Maine has 10 public charter schools, from Cornville to Montville to Scarborough. 

"Public charter schools are tuition free. They are open to all students, and they have sometimes a different academic focus, maybe it's a different style of instruction," Campanella said. "Charter schools are allowed to be a little more flexible about how they teach in return for having specific standards and benchmarks they need to meet by their authorizer in order to stay open."

You can have the tuition covered for private school if your district doesn't have its own high school. There are also private scholarships that could help you cover the tuition of a private school, Campanella explained. 

"Maine is one of the few states in the country that has what is called a town tuition program that allows families to access a scholarship if they live in an area that does not have a public high school," he explained. 

Maine has just a few magnet schools, including one in Limestone that has received national recognition

"Maine has some really high-quality magnet schools focusing on math science, technology, and the performing arts," Campanella said.

For more rural parts of the state, students who struggle in a classroom, or families who need more flexible classroom hours there are two virtual schools in Maine. 

"Those are open to all, tuition free, full-time online learning -- not the same as the pandemic remote learning," Campanella said. "They have quality teachers who are well trained to deliver online instruction."

"You have homeschooling and any family who wants to, has the freedom and the right to homeschool their kids," Campanella explained. However, that comes with regular check-ins to make sure your home-schooled children are learning what they need to. 

At the end of all six options, you're still getting a high school diploma, Campanella said, and an education widely recognized by colleges.

"Charter schools and private schools have been around now for 30 years," he said. "Magnet schools have been around even longer, online schools almost 30 years, so colleges and universities are more likely to understand that there are these different options available for K-12 education and therefore not hurt students in terms of college admissions because they went to a different setting."

Learn more about options in Maine by clicking here

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